Nearly 17,000 passengers wishing to take an international train have been checked since the installation of metal detectors and baggage scanners in mid-July. These are at the country’s three international stations (Brussels-Midi, Antwerp-Central and Liège-Guillemins). Jan Jambon, Minister for the Interior indicated this on Wednesday. He was visiting security devices at the Liège-Guillemins station with François Bellot, Minister for Transport, and Sophie Dutordoir, CEO of SNCB.
Some 22,000 items of luggage were also checked. Jan Jambon stated that around 340 trains were affected by this system. “More in-depth checks were carried out on some 170 people.”
In Liège, around twenty Thalys and ICE trains operate every day. From mid-July, a passenger wishing to take one of these trains has had to go via a bunker installed on a platform above the main train platforms. The given individual must present themselves to an SNCB security agent (from Securail), who has a small mobile device. This randomly decides, using an algorithm, whether a check should be carried out.
When this is the case, the passenger should go through a metal detector and his luggage is scanned, as happens at airports. If the check produces a positive result, the federal police then take over. In 95% of cases where police intervention was necessary, the individual proved to be transporting steel weapons, such as kitchen knives. The aim of these checks is to detect weapons, ammunitions and explosives.
A budget of €15.7 million has been released by the federal government to finance these mechanisms, as well as the addition and updating of cameras. The railway network is now equipped with 4,000 cameras. In Liège-Guillemins, 163 additional cameras have been installed, Gauthier Baijot, Head of Securail in Wallonia indicated.
SNCB recruited 92 Securail agents to carry out these checks. An annual budget of €6.6 million is anticipated by the government to finance staff costs and the maintenance of equipment.